The Centre for Music Studies is pleased to announce that Dr Elina Hytönen (University of Eastern Finland/King’s College London) will present at the Research Seminar Series on Wednesday 14th November. The topic of Dr Hytönen’s presentation is ‘Hidden Authorities and Gendered Positions in the Contemporary Jazz Musicians’ Work Environment’.
Wednesday 14th November 2012, 5:30-7:30pm
Room AG09, Ground Floor, College Building
City University London
Hidden Authorities and Gendered Positions in the Contemporary Jazz Musicians
Abstract: Professional jazz musicians are an interesting mobile group who can work in different venues, and with different musicians, every night of the week, travelling long distances for gigs. It is therefore the venues that create the scene, and which consequently affect the musicians’ views of themselves and their performance. The venues offer the musicians a chance to create and maintain their identities as musicians as well as provide the place where musicians socialise, creating and maintaining critical personal and professional networks. Venues create a setting within which musicians seek and create meaning in relation to their work. These are the places where they want to feel welcome and at home. This aspect is still not widely researched. Venues and their acoustics also affect the musicians’ well-being very straightforwardly through the level of physical strain required to play effectively. Within the venues the musicians are also dependent on and constrained by technical support and sound production, club protocols and the setting itself. These factors also condition the music as the musicians arelikely to adapt to the styles and conduct that are felt appropriate to the particular setting. All these connections are multilayered and complex. This paper aims at highlighting the musicians’ point of view on how performance places create a vibrant scene with which musicians feel a strong sense of belonging. The aim is to discuss the hidden authorities and power relationsaffecting the venues and the work environment. By looking more closely at some female jazz musicians’ experiences of performance venues, I also demonstrate some of the gender differences set up by the venues and the organisations. The places where jazz is being performed are heavily gendered, creating separation between male and female musicians. The venues sometimes seem to create different set of rules and expectations for male and female musicians, which can then create friction and separation within the band. The paper is based on on-going research that consists of interviews with professional jazz musicians and the observation of some performance venues in the United Kingdom.